‘Myths and Muses’ from Serpentyne - creates a powerful atmosphere(December 09, 2014)
They’re called Serpentyne and their album ‘Myths and Muses’ delivers a curious blend of sweeping mediaeval, renaissance-tinged, eastern-influenced folk-rock folk-dance miasma. The idiosyncratic mix includes waves of synthesised sound juxtaposed with didgeridoo, hurdy-gurdy, harmonium, flutes, keyboards, haunting vocals and evocative chants. Throughout there’s a distinct feel that you’re listening to the soundtrack to a film about antique worlds. I kept expecting a feudal lord with an armoured retainer or two to sweep through the room.
In as much as it creates a powerful atmosphere, ‘Myths and Muses’ works a treat. It conjures up exactly the narratives the songs convey. The power of ‘Boudica’, mystery of ‘Alexandria’ and dread-inspiring ‘Valkyries’ build in their own ways through ancient tunes augmented by original music and arrangements, into ever-expanding layers of instrumentation and voice with whirling waves of sound. Serpentyne take the traditional ‘Gaudete’ which begins mellifluously enough, into altogether unexpected shades of ominous shadow, while their treatment of the 12th century ‘Je Vivroie Liement’ and ‘Douce Dame Jolie’ evoke an entirely accurate antique feel. Fans of mediaeval folk will slip through the veil into this world without effort.
Serpentyne are Maggie-Beth Sand (lead vocal, harmonium, keyboards, citole) Mark Powell (hurdy-gurdy, cittern, electric guitars, keyboards, baglama, backing vocals) Pamela Pecko Smith (flute, piccolo) Mark Jenkins (synthesisers, bouzouki) Andrea Furlan (didgeridoo, overtone flute) and Jay Tubsman (drums). Also credited on the album is a small force of musicians playing a plethora of world, mediaeval and ancient instruments plus their ‘live show’ dancers and singers.
Reviewer: Charlie Elland